By Laura Rentas-Giusti
Special to News is my Business
Investing in early childhood is a good business deal. That was the conclusion of a panel of economic experts gathered for the Childhood Investment Meeting that took place during the 10th edition of the Global Forum on Early Care and Education that wraps up at the Sheraton Convention Center Hotel today.
The meeting was intended to educate business leaders, philanthropic organizations and the public sector on the imperative need to invest in children at an early age as a strategy for socio-economic development.
During the activity, Rob Grunewald, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, spoke about the economic impact of investing in early childhood and cited several studies showing the correlation between the delivery of quality early childhood and the economic performance of those children in adulthood.
He shared Nobel Prize in Economics James Heckman’s analysis, who estimates that every dollar invested in early childhood saves approximately $10 in costs related to special education, child abuse and crime down the line.
“We want to show that investments in early childhood are a highly effective form of economic development that has very high returns,” Grunewald said.
Meanwhile Sarah Watson, chief executive of Ready Nation, explained the various models of investment in early childhood that exist in partnership with private enterprise. Watson showed how in the United States, at least one business organization in each state has endorsed the strategy of investing in early childhood as a policy for economic development.
Watson also made herself available to help Puerto Rico to achieve similar consensus.
“Business leaders can contribute in various ways, driving public policy, educating employees within their own companies or promoting projects in their communities and all these contributions are valuable,” Watson said.
Finally, Phillip Peterson, a partner at AON Hewitt based in Philadelphia, shared his experience as a proponent of investing in early childhood in his own community and detailed some of the positive effects of private sector involvement to influence public policy around early childhood.
He added that “businesses pay a lot of taxes, so business leaders and policy makers have much to talk about”.
The presentations of the experts were followed by a reactionary panel composed by Senate President Eduardo Bhatia; Rep. Luisa Gándara; Idalia Colón-Rondón, secretary of the Department of the Family; Vicente Feliciano, a partner at Advanced Business Consulting; Samuel González, CEO of United Way; and Cristina Custodio, founder of the Parque Revolution movement.